Over the last four years, New Boston’s Kade Conley has always proven to be one of the better players that one will find in the SOC I.
However, Conley — as his nickname says — has especially wasted no time dropping the hammer down on each of the teams that the senior point guard has gone up against over the course of the 2017-18 campaign.
Because of that, Conley — who had already obtained 293 points for his senior campaign heading into Tuesday evening’s contest against Symmes Valley — accomplished another big milestone on Tuesday evening as the lead guard scored 27 points to move the tally up to 1,009 overall for his career in an 89-76 victory over the Symmes Valley Vikings’ boys basketball program in an SOC I contest played in New Boston.
For Conley, the accomplishment was incredible, especially considering that he joined Shane Buckley — the very player that he followed during his younger years — in the 1,000-point club.
“It’s always amazing to score 1,000 points in a win, especially with the team that we have,” Conley said. “We’re pretty fun and exciting to watch. It’s going to be a great season. We hope to make a good little tournament run and just have fun doing it.”
However, according to New Boston head coach Adam Cox, the accomplishment is more than well-deserved.
“Kade’s an amazing kid,” Cox said. “He’s a one of a kind. His heart, his determination, and his leadership ability, both on and off of the court, are untouchable.”
Over the course of his career, Conley has more than proven himself not only in the basketball realm, but in the soccer aspect as well. On the pitch, Conley obtained All-Southeast District honors in each of his final pair of seasons with the Tigers, and obtained the game’s opening goal in what ended up being a 4-3 victory over the South Point boys soccer program to claim the program’s biggest win of the year.
But that, however, pales in comparison to his basketball abilities.
After obtaining Special Mention All-Southeast District honors as a sophomore, Conley ultimately made the Third-Team All-Southeast District list en route to obtaining All-State billing as a junior behind his 16 points, six rebounds, four assists, and three steals per outing. And with triple-doubles coming seemingly once a week on average at worst, it’s likely that he’ll be upgrading those mentions in short order as a senior.
But that’s a surprise to no one under the New Boston umbrella. That includes Cox, who had to make special trips to unlock the gym doors for Conley to get up extra shots and reps on off days.
“Kade’s a gym rat,” Cox said. “He’ll put in the time. I don’t know how many times Kade called me to let him in the gym. He’d ask me on a Saturday evening or a Sunday, and I’d come and let him in. That’s what kids need to do.”
Make no mistake about it, however — Conley isn’t just about launching shots and getting buckets, which is certainly the right mindset to have considering that Kyle Sexton and Tyler Caldwell, who are athletic youngsters that are improving by the game, and Kyle McQuithy, who is a three-point marksman, sit right alongside Conley.
Add regular scoring contributors Drake Truitt and Alex Meade, along with energy bugs in Malachi Potts and Eddie Phipps, into the mix, and the result is a deep and talented unit — the most talented that the Tigers have had in quite sometime.
“It’s pretty easy to score 1,000 when you have two guys that are 6-7 (Caldwell) and 6-5 (Sexton) that can play all five positions on the floor, and a group of guys who hustle and care about winning first,” Conley said. “You can really rely on them to take things into their own hands when you’re not hitting shots that night. They’re also unselfish. You pass first and they’ll pass back. They’re great players to have. Then, you have Kyle (McQuithy), who’s a 6-3 shooter that’s easy to find and can knock down shots, and Malachi Potts, who’s an amazing point guard. He doesn’t care if he scores. He’s all about winning, just like everybody else is. It’s a fun team to rely on.”
“I’ve never coached a kid that’s so loving of his team and wants to win so badly for his team in sometime,” Cox said. “I’ve coached a lot of kids, and they’re great kids and great players who have a lot of heart. Kade’s one of those types of kids. I’m blessed and thrilled to have him. He’s going to be hard to replace.”
Of course, having a coach that has boundless energy doesn’t hurt, either. Conley, who also serves as a team captain, referred to Cox as a coach that “cares.”
“He cares a lot,” Conley said. “He brings fun and enjoyment to the team. He’s exciting. He prepares us well for each and every team that we play against, and he’s just an exciting coach to have.”
While the nerves for Kade were certainly evident on Tuesday evening, it helped that the senior stuck to his regular style of attacking the rim, which led to a litany of free throws. And like, well, pretty much every contest that Conley has played in, the point guard had no trouble knocking them in. Of the 10 free throws that Conley attempted, the senior hit a team-high eight of them en route to his 27-point outing.
“We were able to get him to the free throw line a lot on Tuesday, and get him comfortable there,” Cox said. “We knew that Kade would do fine there. He’s averaging around 12 to 14 free throws a game, and we knew if we got him at or near that, he’d have no problem getting the 18 points that he needed.”
So it was only fitting that the senior eclipsed the 1,000 point mark in the third quarter — on a free throw.
“I wouldn’t say it was a goal,” Conley said of scoring 1,000. “It was more of a dream. I never thought I’d score 1,000. I just looked up to Shane (Buckley). When he played, I went to every game and watched him. I pretty much wanted to be like him as a pass-first point guard, but when the opportunities to score are there, I take them.”
And he makes them. Following the affair, Conley was fittingly taken off the court on his teammate’s shoulders to cap off the wonderful evening.
“Getting carried off of the court was pretty fun, too,” Conley said. “It’s great to have a group of teammates who enjoy the accomplishment as much as you do.”
“We had some t-shirts made for him, and we carried him off of the court on our shoulders,” Cox said. “He had a good night. It’s fun for the kids. It’s fun for the seniors. For Kade to enjoy that is special. He stayed with (former New Boston head coach Scott) Jenkins for three years and immediately contributed as a starter from his freshman year on. They grew a lot together and got the program where it needed to be. Scott Jenkins gets the credit for this accomplishment, too. Kade scored 689 points under him, and that’s a big chunk of points.”
Points, however, haven’t been on Kade Conley’s mind. As a matter of fact, the goal, as of now, is to take every game one at a time so that New Boston can make its long-awaited return to the Convocation Center in Athens.
“We’re looking at each team as a bucket list,” Conley said. “We just want to knock each team off and keep the focus on one game at a time.”
And just like Conley before he reached high school, there will be more than just a handful of young hopefuls looking up to his footsteps — because they, too, want to drop the hammer someday.
“If you’re a junior high kid out there,” Cox said, “watch Kade Conley, because you’ll have a good role model to look up to and want to be like.”